Addleshaws represents Met Office on new headquarters

Addleshaw Booth & Co has advised on its first project for the Met Office opposite Ashurst Morris Crisp, which is acting for development consortium Stratus Integrated Services.
The £80m project to construct new headquarters for the Met Office, part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is now underway and scheduled for completion in the summer of 2003. The scheme is one of the first non-financed projects to be developed adopting PFI/PPP principles.
Addleshaws was entitled to pitch for the high-profile role of adviser on the relocation through its relationship with the MoD. Addleshaws has been a member of the MoD's public private partnership (PPP) panel since it was set up five years ago and was recently reappointed after a review (The Lawyer, 7 January).
Panel firms still have to make a formal pitch for individual projects and Addleshaws, led by construction partner Richard Cockram, beat competition from one regional and several City firms on the panel. Cockram described the PPP as the kind of project which comes along only every 30 years. The relocation is one of the biggest IT moves in Europe and involves the relocation of 1,150 employees from nine existing sites in Bracknell to Exeter.
Addleshaws partner Adrian Collins is leading on the property elements of the deal, including the acquisition of a 27-acre site for the new headquarters.
Ashursts energy, transport and infrastructure partner Logan Mair led the Ashursts team acting for the Stratus consortium.
Ashursts won the appointment via its relationship with consortium member Group 4 Falck Global Solutions. Mair had previously worked with Group 4 on the GCHQ Accommodation project, Ashursts' first major project for the client.
For the Met Office scheme, all facilities management services have been sub-contracted to Group 4, while design and construction have been subcontracted to a joint venture between consortium members Costain Group and Skanska.
The Met Office is meeting the capital requirements of the scheme itself, so the project is not, strictly speaking, a PFI. But Cockram said: “In terms of risk transfer and risk sharing, the regime for paying for the provision of services and the way in which remedies are available to the Met if services are deficient, the project was very PFI-based.
“What made this interesting was that it had many features of PFI, but was not true PFI, so we had to address things in a different way to usual.”
Mair said the absence of a third-party lender, with a different set of interests to protect, enhanced the deliverability of the project and turned it into a more commercially driven deal.
He added: “An entirely private sector organisation wanting to move its headquarters could take the same type of principles as used in this deal.”